File image: IOL

JOHANNESBURG - The Rand weakened against the dollar yesterday ahead of second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) numbers and as safe-haven assets gained after a nuclear test by North Korea.

At 5pm, the rand was bid at R12.9747 to the dollar, 9.03c softer than at the same time on Friday.

Statistics SA releases GDP figures today and economists expect growth of 2.2percent in the second quarter after a 0.7percent contraction in the first quarter, but international factors weighed on the currency.

North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test, and reports from South Korea that Pyongyang was preparing for another missile launch, sparked warnings from Washington and a rush to safety by investors.

Bullion traded at close to above $1334.26 (R17257) an ounce at 6pm, having touched its strongest level since late September at $1339.47.

The statistics agency will release July mining and manufacturing data on Thursday. Also due this week are the August Standard Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s business confidence index.

Meanwhile, on the bourse, the benchmark JSE Top40 index was down 0.4percent at 49796.71 points, while the broader all share index shed 0.35percent to 56312.85 points.

Bullion producers gained on the firmer gold price, with the gold mining index up 4.6percent.

AngloGold Ashanti advanced 5.24percent to R137.58.

Cement maker PPC also rallied after announcing Canada’s Fairfax Africa Holdings had offered to buy a 22percent stake in it for R2billion. PPC shares jumped 8.81percent to close at R5.93.

- BUSINESS REPORT